A fitting farewell for your beloved pet

Pet funerals are becoming increasingly popular as families want to give their beloved cats and dogs a good send off.

James Birkett of The Meadows Pet Crematorium

People are relying on their pets more than ever with these frequent lockdowns, but even before the pandemic, pet funerals were the fastest growing service on the market.

Funeral arranger and celebrant Caroline James, together with James Birkett, owner of The Meadows Pet Crematorium, have teamed up to offer sensitive and fitting farewells for beloved pets from Chichester and the surrounding areas.

Caroline explains why she decided to create funeral services for pets as well as humans.

Caroline James (Credit: Matt Ryle/www.mattrylephotography.co.uk}

“A friend of mine was devastated when she lost her dog and asked me, ‘I don’t suppose you would do a little service for us in the garden?’ I wrote and gave the service with a poem, photos and music and the family was really pleased with it.

“I then did some market research and discovered that the popularity of pet funerals is on the increase, particularly in Australia and America.”

Caroline went on to contact James at The Meadows Pet Crematorium, who set up his business in Easthampnett in 2019 and they met at his premises to discuss working together on this new project.

They decided to offer farewell ceremonies along with cremations, and have put together some affordable packages to offer families choice.

A memory board for a fitting farewell

Whilst there is the simplest bronze option, other packages include a personalised memorial board of photographs, the interment of the ashes, a small engraved plaque for a garden marker and even an urn with a selected sapling or shrub to create a living memorial from the pet’s ashes.

James also offers a wide selection of other keepsakes such as jewellery containing a smidge from the ashes, or paw prints.

James said: “Really people are just wanting to do more for their pets and reward them for their loyalty and love. They want to do the best for their beloved friends to say goodbye.”

James went on to say that while the majority of his cremations are for dogs and cats, he has cremated rabbits, rats and even snakes.

The Meadows Pet Crematorium (Credit: Matt Ryle/www.mattrylephotography.co.uk)

So when your pet dies, what is the next step?

James will collect the deceased pet either from the home or from the vets and Caroline will work with the family to create their perfect farewell service which can be held at The Meadows or at the family home.

“I like to get a good feel for the personality of the pet by chatting to the family,” Caroline said. “I usually get some stories, make some suggestions for poems and music and discuss whether the family wants a fun send off or a rather more formal ceremony. Ultimately it’s entirely the family’s choice.

“Pets often give you unconditional love - I know of people who have survived the whole lockdown without anyone else. Their pet can be their single reason to get out of bed in the morning. It’s hardly surprising that people will want to say thank you when their pets leave them. That is another reason pet funerals are swiftly becoming more popular. I think this pandemic has brought into sharp focus, the reliance people place on their pets particularly when they live alone or have no children.”

James Birkett and Caroline James (Credit: Matt Ryle/www.mattrylephotography.co.uk)

“Of course some children have never experienced bereavement and it’s difficult to explain it to them. Having a pet funeral may help children to learn strategies for dealing with loss and grief. The process of remembering the pet with photos, poems, letters and ceremony may well be therapeutic as it can give the children a feeling that they have contributed to something positive. It’s certainly a touching sentiment to thank our pets for all the faithful friendship and love over the years.

“It is not going to be for everyone, but it is something James and I both believe in so we have joined forces to offer pet owners a number of different options.”

Pet funerals now make up the fastest-growing funeral market trend in the world, with research showing that one quarter of UK pet owners have organised funerals for their pets or would consider doing so.

“People used to feel quite embarrassed about making a fuss when they lost their pets which can leave them feeling even more helpless and bereft,” Caroline said.

But as pet funerals rapidly become the norm, Caroline believes that more and more people will find that a cremation and farewell ceremony will help bereaved families find some comfort and consolation.

To find out more about the pet funeral services James and Caroline offer, visit: www.themeadowspetcrem.co.uk or carolinejamesfunerals.com/pet-funerals

Photography credit: www.mattrylephotography.co.uk